On October 16, 2011, Kelly L. Derricks (TRUTH TELLER)traveled to New York City where she gave a public speech about Agent Orange after being invited by Millions Against Monsanto to participate in the rally event for World Food Day. Below is the video recording of that speech.
Kelly has battled severe health issues since she was born that continue today. Some of her illnesses, presumed to be associated with the inter-generational effects of Agent Orange, include but are not limited to the following:
*Her complete list of illnesses staggers to 30 different things.
Kelly continues to fight for the Children of Vietnam Veterans as well as Vietnam Veterans and their families. In January of 2012 She Co-Founded The Non-Profit Organization (COVVHA) Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance INC
When I made my first trip to Vietnam, my biggest fear was that I would be considered a traitor, a war sympathizer, and God forbid, a Hanoi Jane (A.K.A. Hanoi Heather). Even after my first trip, I was a little hesitant to start speaking out. Then it happened. I just started sharing my experiences with others. To my surprise, as I started speaking out, many American Vietnam Veterans came to me asking questions. They would ask, “Did you go to XXX? I served there, what is it like now?” Others would speak of the topography, where they went on R&R, more than one told me of a lost love, asking if I met any Vietnamese American children. Some would tentatively ask how I was treated by the Vietnamese. When I would tell the stories of meeting aging Vietnamese veterans, who once fought for the North or South, and how they would listen to my family’s tragic Agent Orange story, and tear up, then tell me through the translator, how they are very sick from diabetes, cancers and heart conditions and how their children are very ill or dead. The American Veteran would listen, and then more often than not say, “I’m glad you went, I’m not sure if I would go back, but I’m glad you went. I know your Dad is very proud of you.” That was all the affirmation I needed. I was on the right path. It took the men who are living the long Shadow of the Vietnam War to give me the courage I needed.
A few times, and I say very few, because it’s only happened twice, I have been called a “War sympathizer,” I will tell you no Vietnam Veteran has ever called me such. Maybe they are too polite or too pissed to speak with me, I get that, but I’ve never had that experience. When it has happened, I have said, I am not a war sympathizer, I am a humanitarian, the war is over, and our countries are at peace with each other. The mental, and physical pain left from the war is not over, on either side, but the actual taking up arms and killing each other is.
The Vastness of the problem with Agent Orange in Vietnam took till my third trip to even grasp. Vietnam is roughly the same size in square miles as the state of New Mexico. Vietnam reports it has over three million Agent Orange victims. Now think about a county in your state. In one small province in Vietnam I visited, there were 14,000 Agent Orange Victims, 7,000 of them were second generation victims. Can you imagine? Remember the polio epidemic? If it were happening again, would you just sit by and watch? Now, not only throw in the polio epidemic, but also throw in extreme poverty, very poor health care and toxic local environments that are continuing to poison the food supply, creating more victims. This is the current state of things in Vietnam. Would you support those who were doing the work to stop it, and improve the conditions of innocent children? There are many trying to stop this epidemic in Vietnam.
How can helping those offspring affected by Agent Orange in Vietnam help the offspring of Vietnam Veterans in the US or Australia? Currently, there is more research going on in Vietnam on issues of Agent Orange than anywhere else in the world. In Vietnam, there are more supporters globally then there have ever been for the children of US or Australian Veterans. Ninety nine percent of these global supporters do not even know there are Agent Orange offspring Victims in the United States or Australia. If none of the children of American Vietnam Vets or Australian Vietnam Vets are speaking out and educating those in the global community that we are in fact here, how will they ever know? How will they ever know we need help with health care costs and the like?
Why is all this research happening and global supporters still do not know other victims exist? Number one, it is the multitudes of identifiable Agent Orange victims in Vietnam. Remember, three million victims in the area as large as the state of New Mexico. Secondly, it has to do with the fact that Vietnam acknowledges there is a problem, unlike the Australian and US Governments, and invites researchers in to try to help. I do have to have a side note to say, at least the Australian Government has been more open to appropriate research. Our governments and chemical companies have worked hard to dismiss the Vietnam Veteran’s story of suffering in their children and stifle any real research. Then they turn around and say, there are no reputable studies on the affects of Dioxin in the offspring of Vietnam Veterans
Wouldn’t it be helpful if this international support would come to the offspring of American and Australian Agent Orange victims as well? Especially after the last 40 years that our own governments have turned their back on our Fathers, and our families. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the same pressure that is happening in Vietnam to require the government to create social/medical change for the victims of Agent Orange could also happen in the US and Australia? Unless the children of American and Australian Vietnam Veterans engage with the rest of the world, it will pass us by while we wait for our governments to just do the right thing. How much longer should we be passive?
There is something to be said for the emotional healing that has happened for me as a result of my trips to Vietnam. I was once extremely bitter, especially after my own Father died as a result of his AO illnesses. It changed me to see other disabled children born after the war, who also like myself, had no say in the politics of the 60’s, interacting and caring for each other. Their simple acts of compassion for each other helped heal a very lonely place left in my heart from childhood. It’s also given me hope by watching Non Government Organizations, physically help those in most need in Vietnam. I see what could be. I see the future for projects that could meet the unique needs of American and Australian generational victims of Agent Orange. We have to be out there meeting each other, we have to understand the suffering we ALL are going through. One of our dreams is to facilitate a group of American/Australian victims of Agent Orange to go to Vietnam as a delegation to experience this for themselves. It’s only with doing, engaging and acting can real change happen.
It’s about public relations, building relationships, comparing research, and comparing experiences, that helps not only the greater good, but us in the long run. Some may never agree with me, and that is fine. I am a humanitarian, not a war sympathizer, I have my Father’s approval and that is all I need to continue this work. Caring about the Vietnamese Agent Orange victim really does matter.